Groundbreaking West End production confronts cyber bullying
The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust in partnership with the Pure Land Foundation and children’s charity Kidscape present:
A new play by Emily Jenkins Directed by Anna Ledwich
"The internet is their battleground.
London their surround sound.
YouTube their statement maker
their whatsit -
In a world of gaming, vlogging, instant messaging and streaming, the online and offline worlds of four teenagers collide when each are exposed to cyber bullying and a darker side to their digital lives.
Inspired by the experiences of 120 students, Cookies by Fringe First Award winner Emily Jenkins, takes us on an astonishing digital journey that questions the effects and consequences of cyber bullying.
Anna Ledwich, 2015 Olivier Award nominee for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate theatre, directs this stimulating, timely and significant new piece of theatre.
Cookies has been commissioned and developed for The Cyberscene Project; an inspirational theatre initiative created by The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust in partnership with Kidscape and generously funded by Pure Land Foundation. The project aims to use theatre to support the health and well-being of young people affected by cyber bullying and to raise awareness of not only the dangers of being online, but also the positives too.
The process began in October 2016 by scripting the play through a series of theatre based workshops. In this supportive environment, over 100 young students worked alongside theatre professionals to share their intimate experiences; to learn from each other and to be part of an empowering initiative which aims to address the impacts of cyber bullying and the wider digital realm.
It is through hearing the voices of these young students that Emily Jenkins was able to conceive Cookies, a bold, new play which directly addresses some of the issues brought up in the workshops through live performance. The final production, featuring 25 of the original 100 students, will be staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 29th October 2017 for two performances only.
Speaking about the play, Emily Jenkins said;
“For those who have grown up with the internet it has become almost as fundamental to daily life - as elemental - as oxygen. We are still discovering the rules and intricacies of existing within this world; yet it is young people themselves who are most aware of the difference it makes.
This play has come directly from what young people shared with me about their daily online lives; and their extraordinary and terrifying online experiences. Before we tell them what they should do or how they should behave we need to listen to what they have to say. This is not my story. It is theirs.”
The performance taking place at the Theatre Royal Haymarket is the first landmark in the project’s legacy. Blayne George, Programme Director at Masterclass commented;
“This project doesn’t end on 29th October; on the contrary that’s where it begins. Along with this important new play we will be collating our research into a free resource pack for schools and education providers across the United Kingdom as a way of helping to raise awareness and combat the ever-growing issues of cyber bullying and digital security.”
In addition to directly supporting young people, The Cyberscene Project is also about helping adults understand the complexities of cyber bullying and engage appropriately with younger generations. Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of children’s charity Kidscape, said;
“It's vital that as adults seeking to support children with bullying issues we strive to understand their lives and the situations they face. This enthralling performance will challenge us to engage on a much deeper level with young people, many of whom stand in the front line in the war against cyber bullying and online abuse. It tests our assumptions, urging us to explore their realities and work with them to find new solutions.”
Cyberscene is generously supported by The Pure Land Foundation and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. A spokesperson for the Pure Land Foundation said;
"We all know the internet can be informative and entertaining, but it’s also a place where young people can be led to harm and, as such we are proud to be partnering with Masterclass and Kidscape on such a poignant, relevant and necessary project."
Cyberscene has been created under the artistic guidance of renowned British theatre director, Jonathan Church CBE.
Dr Ellen Helsper, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Media and Communications Department at the LSE, is overseeing an evaluation of the project which links with her wider research into the subject area.
For more information on the Cyberscene project, please visit the Masterclass website here.
Additional links and support
If you or someone you know is experiencing cyber bullying and you would like some additional support please visit Kidscape’s website for further guidance.
29th October 2017
3pm & 6:30pm – TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY
Theatre Royal Haymarket, Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4HT
Box Office: 020 7930 8800
For full details either visit www.trh.co.uk or call 020 7930 8800
Notes to editors
- Josh Brown, Press & Marketing Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org | 020 7389 9662
- Danielle Morgan-Dodd, Press Assistant | email@example.com | 020 7389 9660
- Interviews with the creative team and other members of the project are available on request.
- Cyberscene is a creative, hands-on learning project which uses theatre to support the health and well-being of young people affected by cyber bullying.
- The project is generously supported by The Pure Land Foundation and the Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Cyberscene Project
Emily is a winner of the prestigious Fringe First Award for her play Rainbow. She has since worked with Paines Plough, Traverse Theatre and attended the Royal Court Young Writer's and Studio writers programmes. She is currently working on her new play, due to be performed in Summer 2018.
Anna began her directing career at Theatre 503 where she directed a number of world premieres before being made an Associate Director in 2005. She was awarded the Michael and Morvern Heller Director's Bursary at Chichester Festival Theatre where she assisted directors such as Richard Eyre and Rupert Goold. In 2012 Anna was made co-Artistic Director of Theatre on the Fly at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Anna received the Gate Theatre/Headlong New Directions Award for her adaptation of Frank Wedekind's Lulu in 2010 and was nominated for the 2015 Olivier Award Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for her production of Four Minutes Twelve Seconds at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs. Four Minutes Twelve Seconds transferred to Trafalgar Studios in November 2015.
Anna has directed at major drama schools in the UK and is a regular tutor at the Actor's Centre in London.
She worked on The Stick House for Raucous Collective and Bristol OId Vic, a site specific performance which took place in tunnels underneath Bristol Temple Meads Station in September 2015. She has recently directed The Argument, written by William Boyd, at Hampstead Theatre. She directed two new plays at the Hampstead Theatre in Autumn 2016, Labyrinth by Beth Steel and Kiss Me by Richard Bean. Kiss Me transferred to Trafalgar Studios in June this year.
Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust (Masterclass) Supporting and nurturing young people through theatre is, and always will be, at the heart of Masterclass. As the in-house education charity of the Theatre Royal Haymarket, for the past 18 years we have been dedicated to opening up this beautiful and historic building as a resource for young people.
The Masterclass programme hosts inspiring and empowering talks with leading industry figures, onstage workshops, careers advice sessions, creative opportunities and paid apprenticeships for young people aged 16 – 30. We are devoted to using theatre as a platform to build confidence, strengthen self-esteem, nurture creativity and develop business and life skills in young people –the talent of the future
Bullying and abuse can destroy childhoods and damage futures. Kidscape has been working for over 30 years to keep children safe from harm and to give parents and professionals the knowledge and skills they need to ensure that every child is protected. We were the first charity in the UK to tackle bullying and child sexual abuse and remain committed to our mission to support and protect children and help them to grow into happy, confident adults.
The Pure Land Foundation
The Pure Land Foundation supports institutions, charities and programmes that promote social, spiritual and emotional wellness, with an emphasis on art and music. Pure Land in Buddhism refers to the realm of higher consciousness and peace. Although not based in any religion, the Foundation seeks to create and promote the interconnectedness and sense of “pure land” in our daily lives. The Pure Land Foundation was founded by Bruno Wang, a London-based philanthropist, cultural patron and businessman. The Foundation reflects Mr Wang's well-established interests in meditation, holistic wellbeing, art and music.